is presenting the words or ideas of someone else as your own without proper
acknowledgment of the source.
If you don't credit the author, you are committing a type of theft called
When you work on a research paper you will probably find supporting material
for your paper from works by others. It's okay to use the ideas of other people,
but you do need to correctly credit them.
When you quote people -- or even when you summarize or paraphrase information
found in books, articles, or Web pages -- you must acknowledge the original
author. It is plagiarism when you
- Buy or use a term paper written by someone else.
- Cut and paste passages from the Web, a book, or an article and insert
them into your paper without citing them. Warning! It is now easy to search
and find passages that have been copied from the Web.
- Use the words or ideas of another person without citing them.
- Paraphrase that person's words without citing them
Cite, Reference or Document your sources:
- Whenever you use factual information or data you
found in a source, so your reader knows who gathered the information
and where to find its original form.
- Whenever you quote verbatim two or more words
in a row, or even a single word or label that's distinctive, so the reader
can verify the accuracy and context of your quotation, and will credit the
source for crafting the exact formulation. Words you take verbatim from another
person need to be put in quotation marks, even if you take only two or three
words; it's not enough simply to cite. If you go on to use the quoted word
or phrase repeatedly in your paper, however, you don't need to cite it each
- Whenever you summarize, paraphrase, or otherwise
use ideas, opinions, interpretations, or conclusions written by another person,
so your readers know that you are summarizing thoughts formulated by someone
else, whose authority your citation invokes, and whose formulations readers
can consult and check against your summary.
- Whenever you make use of a source's distinctive structure,
organizing strategy, or method, such as the way an argument is divided
into distinct parts or sections or kinds, or a distinction is made between
two aspects of a problem; or a particular procedure for studying some phenomenon
(in a text, in the laboratory, in the field) that was developed by a certain
person or group.
- Whenever you mention in passing some aspect of another
person's work, unless that work is very widely known, so readers know
where they can follow up on the reference.
When Not to Cite, Reference or Document your sources
- When the source and page-location of the relevant
passage are obvious from a citation earlier in your own paragraph.
If you refer to the same page in your source for many sentences in a row,
you don't need to cite the source again until your refer to a different page
in it or start a new paragraph of your paper.
- When dealing with "common knowledge," knowledge
that is familiar or easily available in many different sources (including
encyclopedias, dictionaries, basic textbooks) and isn't arguable or based
on a particular interpretation; (i.e. the date of the Stock Market Crash,
the distance to Saturn, the structure of the American Congress, the date or
birth of the discoverer of DNA. This is commonly available knowledge. Obviously,
what counts as "common knowledge" varies from situation to situation; when
in doubt ask - or cite anyway, to be safe. Note that when you draw a great
deal of information from a single source, you should cite that source even
if the information is common knowledge, since the source (and its particular
way of organizing the information) has made a significant contribution to
- When you use phrases that have become part of everyday
speech: you don't need to remind your reader where "all the world's
a stage" or "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" first appeared,
or even to put such phrases in quotation marks.
- When you draw on ideas or phrases that arose in conversation
with a friend, classmate, instructor, or teaching assistant - including conversation
by e-mail or other electronic media. You should acknowledge help of this kind,
however, in a note. Be aware that these people may themselves be using phrases
and ideas from their reading or lectures. If you write a paper that depends
heavily on an idea you heard in conversation with someone, you should check
with that person about the source of the idea. Also be aware that no instructor
or teaching assistant will appreciate your incorporating his or her ideas
from conversation verbatim into your paper, but will expect you to express
the ideas in your own way and to develop them.
|Radford, Marie L.,
Susan B. Barnes, and Linda R. Barr. Web Research: Selecting, Evaluating,
and Citing. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2002.